Entrepreneurs are quite often puzzled over the question of what they should trademark. This article focuses on the choice between registering trademark for the brand name and brand logo, weighing the respective advantages and shortcomings.
Logo used by a company typically contains both the visual identity of the brand and the name of the brand. Since trademark registration protects against both identical and similar trademarks, applying for the logo trademark arguably provides the best value for money. With just one trademark application (and associated fees), both the name and visual elements of the brand receive a high level of protection.
While the protection for the logo in the form it was registered in is explicit, an implicit protection is also transferred to the name of the brand if it is contained in the logo. It needs to be noted that this implicit level of protection may not be sufficient in specific edge cases but generally speaking, it provides an adequate level of protection against infringement attempts.
Additional benefit of registering a logo trademark can be found in the very high level of distinctiveness of this trademark. Recognising that distinctiveness of a trademark represents one of the two key preconditions for a successful registration, it is the combination of the brand name with associated visual elements in the form of a logo that greatly enhances the level of distinctiveness and thereby increases the chance of a successful trademark registration.
Registering a trademark in the form of a brand name provides protection solely for the name of the brand. This means that any visual elements or a logo remain unprotected and can be easily imitated by competitors. At the same time, this form of trademark registration offers explicit protection for the brand name, covering edge cases and also providing some protection for the logo of the brand if it contains the registered name. This level of additional protection is derived from the aforementioned fact that trademark registration protects against identical as well as similar trademarks, and the owner of such a trademark can make a reasonable claim that a competitor’s logo containing the name element can create consumer confusion.
With over 12 million trademarks registered each year, it may be difficult to achieve a high level of distinctiveness with a name trademark alone. Thereby, generally speaking, the chances of a successful registration for a name trademark are somewhat lower in comparison to a logo counterpart.
Registering both the name and the logo
Obviously, the highest level of protection is achieved by making two trademark applications, for both the name and the logo. This approach provides an explicit protection for key branding elements, covering edge cases and ensuring that the uniqueness of the brand is strongly protected.
Based on the critical evaluation in this article, the choice between registering the logo or name trademarks is influenced by the entrepreneurs’ goal, budget as well as risk avoidance. The table below presents a concise overview of the level of protection and key considerations associated with different forms of trademarks covered in this article.
Name + logo
Likelihood of acceptance
Brand name protection
Brand logo protection
Protecting the name only
Best value for money
Best level of protection